A person who was found shot to death on a Santa Clarita roadside on Monday has been identified by authorities as a 12-year-old boy.
On Tuesday night, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department confirmed the body belonged to Willians Lemus Ayala, a Canyon Country resident.
Ayala was found early Monday morning near the intersection of Sand Canyon and Placerita Canyon roads.
According to family friends, Ayala was a 7th grader at La Mesa Junior High School.
He was found around 6:30 a.m. on the side of a remote road in a brush-filled area with an apparent gunshot wound.
Authorities pronounced him dead at the scene. It’s currently unclear whether the boy was killed near the scene or if his body was left on the roadside.
“He was smart, respectful,” said Marta Escobar, a family friend. “He was a quiet guy. He was trying to protect his family. Right now, the whole family is devastated. It’s so sad for them.”
No information on a potential suspect has been released so far and investigators are looking into whether the deadly incident may be gang-related.
At the time of the discovery, authorities misidentified the victim as an adult man.
Anyone with information is asked to call the LASD’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Anonymous tips can be submitted to “Crime Stoppers” at 800-222-8477 or online at lacrimestoppers.org.
The boy’s family is hoping investigators are able to track down his killer soon. A GoFundMe page was set up to help the Ayala Family with the boy’s funeral arrangements.